Society of Curiosities: Madok’s Lost Treasure

8.5 Overall
Component Quality
Immersion
Puzzle Design
Game Experience
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Society of Curiosities: Madok's Lost Treasure

  • Played June 2020

  • 60 minutes
  • 1-6 players
  • Subscriptions range from $15-$20/month

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Have you noticed the ERA team writes a lot of preamble in our reviews? “Why so? Doesn’t that take more time and effort?!” you ask. Yes… yes it does. We’ve always believed it’s important to provide as much information about our team, the company we’re interacting with, and anything else of particular interest leading up to the review itself… the better we get at sharing the context of a review, the better you (our amazing followers), can gain from the review itself. And then there are times like this where we can’t wait to get to the ‘meat’ of our review because we’re excited to talk about our experience! It’s with that excitement (as the context for this review) we turn our attention towards Society of Curiosity’s first in-home game: ‘Madok’s Lost Treasure’! …And we’ve got a lot to say about it!

To start, the component quality of this game is incredible! Madok’s Lost Treasure is a near perfect example of a game designed with the player experience as top priority… not the production cost or the profit margin! Clearly it was designed by an escape room enthusiast for fellow enthusiasts. We don’t want to spoil too much of what you’ll find inside, but a couple examples include map pieces on thick parchment paper and magazine articles that look like they’ve actually been torn from a real magazine. Add to it some incredible integration with modern technology, and you’ll see exactly why this game deserves such high praise for its production values. Now is it perfect? No of course not, there are a couple minor things here and there that could’ve been improved upon (e.g. we wished there were a few more creative game components and a few less paper items. And there were one or two items that could’ve been taken to the next level of production value), but this is less of a critique, and more of a ‘’we liked it so much we wanted more’’ type of comment.

Our team members had a lot of comments about the puzzles. We really enjoyed the complexity, the difficulty level, and the integration of the game components into the puzzles themselves. The pirate theme of Madok’s Lost Treasure was present in all tasks/puzzles, and there was clearly a lot of background research that went into the design of this game. We learned more about pirate folklore, culture, history, and symbolism than we ever knew previously. The puzzle path is fairly linear with some flexibility at points in time, and it’s fair to say the game is generally inclusive, even though there weren’t any team building puzzles. As with most in-home escape games, we’d say 2-4 players is ideal depending on the level of involvement you want with the game (more people allows for more brainstorming, but also means less direct interaction with the tasks and puzzles). We’d also suggest having at least one person on your team familiar with escape room puzzles, but it isn’t required and you’ll do just fine if your team dedicates themselves to observing, reading, and thinking creatively. One thing a couple of our members felt we should mention is the amount of required reading. For some enthusiasts we know even a simple paragraph can be too much. (Interesting side note: This pet peeve is usually expressed by enthusiasts who’ve played dozens of early generation escape rooms where it was often required to read large sections of text from a book or journal for 10 minutes or longer). To be clear, the amount of reading in Madok’s Lost Treasure might be a bit more than average, but it’s fairly light and doesn’t come in huge blocks of text…for those who are already grinding their teeth, relax, it’s easy reading and we promise the experience is worth it but we wanted to give you a heads up! Moving forward, we found another great example on how a well designed game is supposed to function… in the hint system. We’ve played dozens of in-home escape games and for the most part we’ve never really enjoyed interacting with the hint systems. You’ll typically get one (maybe two) hints that may or may not help, and then the second or third hint just tells you the answer. In Madok’s Lost Treasure you’ll be given several hints that gradually increase from subtle to obvious… before the answer is revealed. Sometimes all you need is a gentle nudge. Other times it’s a bit more guided direction. But in both circumstances nobody wants to be told too much, or feel like they don’t have the ability to solve a puzzle. Madok’s hint system does a great job of avoiding that frustration and had us appreciating how the Society of Curiosities team once again put the player experience first. The best part about the puzzles for some of us was that this game doesn’t play like an escape room, or a puzzle game… it feels more like a real adventure! We’ll explain a bit more about this when we talk about the immersive aspects of Madok’s Lost Treasure, but if you’re planning on checking this game out, just know that the puzzles are more of a backdrop to the overall immersive experience… and we loved it!

And now the immersion! What can we say here other than WOW! We’ve played some rough games and some decent in-home games over the years… but none of them has taken us on an immersive adventure quite like this (with the exception of the Detective series from Portal games)! We’re about to share a minor spoiler here so if you don’t want to know anything about the game experience don’t read the remainder of this paragraph! …Still here? Don’t worry, it’s a minor spoiler and won’t ruin the game at all, but we had to mention our favourite immersive aspect of this game. Throughout the game you’ll be in touch with actual in-game characters! And not just one character… a BUNCH of them! You’ll be texting, calling, and interacting with people who provide valuable information and tips throughout the game. How cool is that?!! Best of all, the interaction with these NPC’s (non-playing characters) helped us feel as if we were part of a larger global team that’s working on this mission together… in real time. If something was urgent and required our immediate attention, the NPC’s would let us know this wasn’t the time to go make dinner! If you take too long to respond, you’ll also quickly learn it’s not nice to leave your fellow adventurers hanging in the middle of something while they’re out there in the field… it’s that immersive! All of this comes together with some excellent education, research, and historical information as we mentioned earlier. We wouldn’t be exaggerating at all if we said we learned more about pirate culture, folklore, symbolism, and history than we’d ever known before. The story is also interesting and for the most part developed WITHIN the game! We’ve finally found some game designers who understand story development and why it’s such a critical component to any story based adventure. Did we notice a couple minor things that could’ve been improved upon, or added, to heighten immersion even more? Of course, but when you’re already at this level of creative and immersive integration, it’s just nitpicking and in this case not necessary.

So did we have fun? Yarrrgh, fun ye say?! Off the plank with ye! Kidding… this game isn’t just good, it’s one of the best in-home games we’ve ever played! The immersion and game components are top notch, the puzzles are seamlessly integrated to the point you’ll only notice them as a backdrop, and you’ll learn more about pirates than you would’ve ever learned anywhere else! What’s not to love?! The difficulty level can a bit challenging so again you’ll want to aim for a group size of 2-4 players and ideally you’ll want someone with a bit of escape room experience if you can snag a friend or family member like that. We’d also say the game is suitable for ages 12 and up. So there you have it. It’s an incredible first offering from Society of Curiosities that has us waiting anxiously for their new release. Go check them out online and order this game if they haven’t sold out yet!

We want to hear your thoughts on this game! Be sure to comment in the section below or send us a message via ERA’s email, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter… As always, happy escaping!

Final Verdict:

8.5/10

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